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Meal Planning Tips 101: The Grocery List

Grocery list organized by section.

Sample Prep Dish grocery list organized by section of the store.

For some of you, meal planning can be super stressful. Where do you start? How do you stop the time suck of combing through all of your recipes (especially on Pinterest, which can be such a joyful rabbit hole!) to create a grocery list? How do you keep organized in the kitchen? And let's not even talk about the grocery store, right?! It's time to end the meal time stress.

The Prep Dish system contains 3 parts-

  • The Grocery List
  • Prep Day
  • Dish Day

Today, we're tackling the grocery list. This is the most important step in the meal planning process, because without your grocery list none of the other steps will fall into place.

Mistake #1- Not Thinking Through Your Grocery List

Start by grabbing your calendar and looking at the week's events. Do the kids have after school events or sports? Do you have a work meeting, networking event, church commitment, etc.? If so, you might want to add a slow cooker meal in that day or double up on a meal and re-purposing – for example, a roast/brisket one day makes great tacos the next day! Once you have those days down, fill in the rest with other protein choices or make a meal like a lasagna that you can double up and put one in the freezer for a quick meal when you are really in a pinch.

Mistake #2- Not Organizing Your Recipes

Try to organize your recipes as much as you can so grab them and create a quick grocery list. I like to organize by protein type (chicken, beef, seafood, etc.) and also separate out breakfasts, lunches, snacks, salads, desserts, soups and slow cooker/ Instant Pot meals so I can quickly go to those. This system can work for a notebook/binder or to your Pinterest boards. Keeping things exactly where you need them is so helpful. It's hard combing through a really large notebook or Pinterest board of recipes (here's that Pinterest rabbit hole we talked about earlier). Another Pinterest tip is to keep a board of “go-tos”. These are your tried and true recipes that you know you can turn to in a pinch.

Mistake #3- Grocery Store Anxiety

Do you have grocery store anxiety? You are not alone! If you find yourself wandering the grocery store aisles or constantly circling back to get an item then you need these meal planning tips! When I was a personal chef, I needed to make sure I was doing the most efficient grocery shopping possible, because time = money. I needed to get in and out, with all the items on my grocery list, and back to my client's house to cook. The more efficiently I did this, the more clients I could serve! My solution? An organized grocery list by food category in the grocery store. I know that the berries will greet me at the entrance of the store, so those go first on the list and after produce is the seafood aisle, so that goes next on the list, etc. If you are a Prep Dish customer, you are very familiar with our grocery list template. For those of you who are not, the Prep Dish grocery template is organized by Veggies, Fruits, Meat, Seafood, Frozen, Dairy, Eggs, Nuts/Seeds, Pantry, Oils & Vinegars and Spices. You won't believe how much time is saved when you categorize your grocery list by grocery store departments!

Want to give it a try for yourself? We have created organized grocery list templates in both PDF and Microsoft Word formats for you to use. Simply enter your name and email in the form below to get your downloads.

I hope these tips help end grocery list chaos and get you to Step 2 of the Prep Dish System: Prep Day. We will be diving into that topic in 2 weeks – so stay tuned!

Of course, if you still don't want to do the work, which I totally get because that's why I started Prep Dish ;), you can always join us as a subscriber or join our newsletter list to get a free week's meal plan!

Do you have a favorite grocery list template or app that you use? Let me know in the comments below or post a pic of your grocery list on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. Find us in all 3 places as @prepdish!


20150217Allison025Prep Dish is a gluten-free & paleo meal planning website. Celebrity personal chef & dietitian Allison Schaaf thoughtfully crafts each plan using her own well-tested recipes.  Each meal plan allows you, the home cook, to spend only 2-3 hours preparing a week’s worth of crave-worthy, gluten-free, healthy meals using seasonal, whole foods (nothing processed!). We aim to save you time while keeping your family’s taste buds happy.

 Along with a weekly menu, you’ll get a printable grocery list and recipes for prep day — just one day of preparation yields scrumptious, good-for-you dishes all week long. Click to start

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